In 2 Timothy 4, after Paul instructed Timothy to “preach the word, and to reprove, rebuke and exhort”, he explains to Timothy the reason for that instruction. It is because there would be coming a time when “they will not endure sound doctrine.” “They” refers to professing Christians, and Paul is saying that soon they will succumb to their own desires and wishful thinking, and will “after their own lusts shall they draw to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” That time has long come and gone, and is continuing. The teachers themselves are also now looking after their own desires and looking to soothe their restlessness with all sorts of bad teaching, therefore dragging some of their undiscerning flock down the road of apostasy.
Recently, Rob Bell revealed his approval of homosexuality when he answered a question at a seminar, as seen in this video at Apprising Ministries. Brian McLaren gave his thumbs up to Rob Bell’s pronouncement as well. And now, Brian McLaren has officiated at a wedding ceremony for his homosexual son and his partner. (see Apprising Ministries) Is it possible that a high number of pastors in today’s evangelical world have no problem with these two men and the way they are contributing to the eternal damnation of many souls?
Both of these false teachers have been heavyweight leaders in the emergent church movement for a long time now. They are just simply adding on to their false credentials as post-modern “evangelical” leaders. They are now bringing it up another level, and I wonder now: how will the leaders in the church respond now? With silence again? Where are the Al Mohlers within the Church of the Nazarene? After all, those two men have been a major influence, both in the colleges, the seminaries, and in the churches.
What Brian McLaren Thinks
When asked about homosexuality a few years ago, Brian McLaren (who is no longer a pastor) said this:
“You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there’s no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.”
Brian McLaren also said the following:
“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.”
And he said this in 2006 regarding homosexuality:
“Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years for ongoing reflection. After all, many important issues in church history took centuries to figure out. Maybe this moratorium would help us resist the “winds of doctrine” blowing furiously from the left and right, so we can patiently wait for the wind of the Spirit to set our course.” (http://www.outofur.com/archives/2006/01/brian_mclaren_o.html)
Both men have certainly had a big influence on many within the church. In 2011, Rob Bell spoke at a pastor’s seminar at Point Loma Nazarene University, where you will find emergent ideology being promoted, mysticism, and a softening of the biblical view on homosexuality. His books and videos are used in churches for weekly Sunday School studies instead of Bible study.
Brian McLaren conducted a three day seminar at NorthWest Nazarene University several years ago that was outrageous, as described here by Eric Barger, who attended the seminar. His books are used widely as resources at many Nazarene universities, and can be found in the college bookstores. His books are also popular with many Nazarene pastors, who have gone on to pass them down to undiscerning members.
NazNet Pastors Weigh In On McLaren’s Actions
We have often called NazNet a breeding ground for emergent heresy, and with good reason, and unlike those who accuse us of being unloving, we have documented what they said, compared with Scripture, and have clearly pointed out their error. They continued that trend in a new thread on NazNet, although there were others who strongly disagreed with many of these pastors.
What some of these pastors have said reflects the kind of compromise, lack of Scriptural understanding, and lack of strong conviction that has allowed a lot of the damage that has come into the Church. Would these pastors say the same words to their congregations? Would they say these words at a district assembly in front of other churches? Since they said these words publicly, let’s put out what they have stated in their own words so that others may see and decide whether their words are based on sound doctrine:
“I am not able to be as black and white on this issue as some of my friends – on either side. And I hope we will have grace to understand that this is, for some, a more complex issue than others see it…. I don’t have a problem at all with Brian McLaren doing this, any more and perhaps even less than I have a problem with a member of the clergy praying a blessing over various activities of our secular culture. He is not a member of my theological tribe, and thus has absolutely no accountability to me, or to us.”
“Okay, now I will say this – and I know that many will disagree. I am still not sure how I personally believe about this issue.” (Mike Schutz, Nazarene pastor)
“McLaren still has a bit of capital with me, and I offer hopefully a diminishing amount of public criticism for those who clearly strive to sense the Lord’s direction. Selfishly perhaps, I’m focusing increasingly on what the Lord wants me to do, and less on telling others what they should do.” (Dennis Scott, Nazarene pastor)
“Brian McLaren drinks beer, too. I’m not sure what the big deal is. I don’t know why anyone would need to defend the man for anything. Some things he’s said have helped people think about God in new and refreshing ways (some have helped us think of God in old, powerful ways). Disagreeing with one thing (this is hardly the first thing he’s said that gives one pause to think) does not negate the positives.
There’s a ton of our brother and sisters who have spent lots of time, effort, and prayer seeking how to deal with this issue and have decided differently than us. We have to get along with each other.
I don’t consider one’s views on homosexual marriage as a litmus test for faith (I’m more inclined to do so on things like purity, chastity, faithfulness, and relationship).” (Ryan Scott, ordained Nazarene elder)
I see McLaren the way I see a MLB slugger. I’m a fan because he hits a lot of homeruns. I am a fan in spite of the fact that he also strikes out.
While my own evaluation is that this was a swing and a miss, I’m still a fan. (Wilson Deaton, Nazarene pastor)
“It sounds like Brian McLaren was in a tough spot, given that it’s his son we’re talking about here. … McLaren didn’t officiate at the actual wedding but “led a commitment ceremony” for family and friends later in the day…. which sounds like the pattern I’ve heard advocated here on NazNet in the past (couple gets married by the state, then blessed by the church).
Of course, as a Nazarene minister, such an action is out of bounds for me, but if I were in Brian’s shoes… who knows what choice I would’ve made? (Rich Schmidt, Nazarene pastor)
“I guess I’m confused as to what is being blessed here?
I would be happy to pray for or at just about any event. I’d love to pray for any couple, gay or otherwise, that they would experience all the love and grace and peace and joy that God has for all God’s children – that they would have the wisdom and grace to seek to love and serve others in all situations – that every person’s life would radiate the love and grace of the one who created them.
I’d be happy to pray at any wedding, even if I thought it was a bad idea – the thing ill-conceived marriages need most is prayer.” (Ryan Scott, Nazarene ordained elder)
These men would do Brian McLaren proud with their words. These are indicative of many other pastors who show a weak sense of conviction regarding homosexual sin. To be unwilling to clearly rebuke Mr. McLaren and avoid him as Scripture demands, is just as wrong as approving it. This same kind of wavering or refusal to make a clear statement on homosexuality, was reflected at Bruce Barnard’s FaceBook discussion. It does have a lot of eye opening insight in how these pastors are so devoid of discernment. Maybe they have good intentions, but they are way off the mark biblically. There is nothing ambiguous when it comes to homosexuality and what the Bible teaches.
So what now? Irresponsible, undiscerning, or apostate pastors is one of the reasons why the Church of the Nazarene is sliding deeper and deeper into apostasy. And yet, will the General Superintendents still remain silent and allow these two men to continue spreading poison in the church? Or, will they ever say, enough is enough, and call for a return to true holiness teaching and doctrine based on God’s word, not McLaren or Bell’s doctrine? Of course, even if they banned McLaren and Bell completely, that would not come close to helping cure the sickness spreading in our denomination. And how many more pastors are our seminaries sending out, who cannot stand firm and lovingly on the teaching of Holy Scripture, without trying to send ambiguous messages to people that could be sending them straight to hell.
Additional Resource: From Truth To Fables (John Henderson)